In May each year, Okinawan weather officials proudly announce the official rainy season has begun. This usually occurs two or three weeks after a daily onslaught of torrential downpours has pelted the island until it resembles an over-saturated sponge. And each year, around the beginning of July, they pronounce the”official end” of the rainy season. Still, Mother Nature with a mind of her own tosses several tropical cyclone systems our way to remind us mortals that we have absolutely no control over her power. At the end of each rainy onslaught, the creatures and critters that have been in hiding return. The air fills with a symphony of bird and locust duets. Along with these more pleasant reminders of nature comes Okinawa’s native dive bomber, the gokiburi – more commonly known to Americans as the cockroach. The local variety of this ever-present species is so large even Texans would be proud to claim it as their own! I remember my first encounter with these locals. I saw one scampering across the wall of our first apartment. With nobody else around to take care of it, I bravely (or at least I thought I was being brave) grabbed a broom and swung at the wall. This particular gokiburi must have found the whole thing extremely amusing, because just as the broom was about to make contact with it and the wall, the thing came swooshing down at me. There I was a grown human, ducking and screaming like a mass murderer was attacking me! Although I despise the native dive bombers, I’ve learned to accept that they are a part of living on Okinawa. So each year, after the rains, I grab my collection of gokiburi weapons and the battle begins.
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